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“Urgent action needed”: Alarm at local child poverty figures

This news post is about 1 year old

Figures are “unacceptably high” across Scotland and the UK. 

New research has warned levels of child poverty remain unacceptably high across Scotland and the rest of the UK. 

A report, published by the End Child Poverty coalition following work by Loughborough University, has shown nearly one in four children across Scotland (24%) were still living in poverty prior to the full roll out of the new Scottish Child Payment. 

The new data covers the period to 2021/22 and provides the best available estimates of child poverty at local authority level, after housing costs have been taken into account. 

Levels of child poverty across Scotland’s council areas range from one in seven in East Renfrewshire to nearly one in three in neighbouring Glasgow.

Across the UK, that figure was 29%, but campaigners say that urgent action is still needed at every level of government to ensure that Scotland’s legal child poverty reduction targets are met. 

Groups have urged UK Government to scrap the two-child benefit limit but that Scottish Ministers should “do the right thing” and mitigate this “unfair and indiscriminate” policy. 

Local authorities across Scotland have also urged to build on existing action to maximise family incomes and cut costs.   

Across the UK, 4.2 million children were living in poverty (29%) whilst in Scotland the figure is 250,000 (24% of Scotland’s children). 

John Dickie, speaking on behalf of a coalition of anti-poverty charities involved in the work, said: “Here in Scotland, the Scottish Child Payment is already making a big difference to struggling families, but nearly one in four children still face this deep injustice and further effort is now needed to ensure Scotland’s upcoming child poverty targets are met.  

“The First Minister has committed to used devolved powers to the ‘absolute maximum effect’, so his government must now do the right thing and go further to both increase the value of the Scottish child payment and put in place additional payments for families affected by the two-child limit.

“These new local child poverty statistics also highlight how critical the role of local authorities and their partners are in maximising incomes and reducing the costs families face. We urge all councils to double down on their local child poverty action plans and put low-income families front and centre when prioritising resources and local economic development.” 

Campaigners highlight the damaging effect the UK Government’s two child limit policy is having. 

Members of the End Child Poverty coalition – whose members in Scotland include Child Poverty Action Group, Save the Children, Trussell Trust, Poverty Alliance, Oxfam Scotland, Close the Gap,  Aberlour, Children 1st, Home-Start Scotland, Children in Scotland, Action for Children and One Parent Families Scotland – are calling on the UK Government to scrap the two child limit policy at source.

The policy limits key child-related benefits, such as universal credit, to the first two children in a family. 

They point to the evidence showing children with two or more siblings are more likely to be in poverty. Across the UK their risk of being in poverty rises to 42%.  

However, in the meantime they are also urging the Scottish Government to invest further in the Scottish Child Payment, both to increase its value and to provide additional payments for families affected by the UK-wide two child limit, until it is abolished.  

Speaking on behalf of Scotland members of the End Child Poverty coalition, John Dickie said: “These latest statistics are a stark reminder that child poverty remains unacceptably high across the UK, including in every local authority area of Scotland. It’s now absolutely vital that the UK Government scraps poverty creating policies like the two-child limit.”